The manner of the interactions between consumers and companies is changing from its roots

October 2017

This year’s guest of the Direct Media Academy, David Matin, Director for Trends and Analytics of Trendwatching, is interviewed by “Nedeljnik” magazine where tells us how consumers dictate the trends that will mark the upcoming year and in what way the former economical giants have to adapt in order to survive in a world of technology that is changing daily.

One of the leading world experts, David Matin, Director for Trends and Analytics on the global level of the Trendwatching company, spoke in front of 500 marketing professionals; the event was held in Belgrade, as part of the Direct Media Academy.

It was an event that was part of a regular educational programme in which more than 300 people participated, and Matin introduced to the marketing sector professionals to the latest trends that can be expected next year; trends that are significant for their brands, as well as media and marketing agencies.

Director for Trends and Analytics of Trendwatching tells us how consumers dictate the trends that will mark the upcoming year and in what way the former economical giants have to adapt in order to survive in a world of technology that is changing daily.

Trendwatching, said Matin, is the most well-known and independent world company that follows the needs of the consumer.

Can you make Trendwatching closer to us and explain how you do it?

Our obsession is consumer trends that shape expectations and behavior of the company. We have a big online platform on which we analyze said trends through thousands of examples. We also offer tools that make it easier for companies to implement trends. We also host talks, like this one in Belgrade.

You are at the Direct Media Academy to showcase trends for 2018. Which would you single out?

We follow a large number of trends, but for this kind of audience, which turns to strategy of brands and digital, we can single out five key trends that can improve the way in which they think and work, and that can be implemented into their campaigns.

The first is “Beneficial intelligence”. I must stress that we give unusual names in order for these concepts to be easily remembered. It is about using artificial intelligence to help consumers ease their lives lives and make services faster and more efficient. That is something that users expect, taking into consideration that we are talking about a big trend that is being talked about and has big expectations.

The second trend is a lot different, but it is no less important. We called it “Insider trading” and it’s about positive changes that companies need to introduce in their structures. This does not influence consumers directly, but it changes the way in which they view the company. Making a positive change in the internal culture and telling the story of this change may be the most powerful marketing story in 2018.

At a time when the company’s transparency is an important factor, they need to create positive changes in the cultures of their own organization. The consumer demand for brands to share their ethics and values is growing. It is a lot easier for consumers to connect with companies whose ethics are developed.

The third trend is called “New channels and new contents” and it represents finding new ways and paths to the consumer. An excellent example for this are applications for messages that have millions of users and that can be a great link between companies and consumers.

The fourth trend we called “P2P world”, or “Peer to peer world”. We already live in this trend. Consumers are largely associated with their peers, they rent their apartments on AirBnB, going through hundreds of profiles per day to find the right person on Tinder, and the need is growing with every new way of connecting. Consumers are looking for brands and companies that will connect them to their peers that have the knowledge, skills and expertise that they are looking for. LinkedIn has already recognized and started a mentor programme in which it connects those who want to learn with those who want to share their knowledge.

The last trend is very important and in a way it epitomizes all the aforementioned. It was named “Post demographic consumerism” and in fact the idea is to show how rapidly the habits of consumers today are changing and how rapidly new technologies are being adapted, which makes everything look chaotic, especially for companies that can no longer rely on old ways of advertising. What they can do in the world of very complex and chaotic behaviour of consumers is to jump out of their old methods and do something unexpected.

The rate at which consumer habits change today is much greater than 10 years ago. What are the reasons for that?

Changing consumer expectations are largely associated with technological change. Only five years ago messaging applications were not mainstream, and today you have billions of users of these services. Ways of interacting are changing radically but it’s getting harder to see that because consumers are adopting new forms and ways of thinking much faster than before. The reason for this lies in the fact that we share a “global brain”. We live in an online world in which knowledge, information and culture are shared. Innovations cross borders much more quickly; geographical as well as industrial. Everything is getting adopted quicker.

Just look at the speed of acceptance of refrigerators—it is slow and unevenly distributed. On the other hand, we’ve adopted smart phones abnormally fast. Since 2007 we’ve gone from zero to 95%. And it will be even faster. Look at the speed at which we adopted messaging applications. Or artificial intelligence. The rate at which new innovations are being adopted is amazing.

What does this mean for businesses?

It will be very difficult for them to track consumers. And that is exactly what Trendwatching is dealing with. We could say – let’s look at the world of innovation and its structure. To separate the signals that consumers are sending us and to follow up on the rapid changes.

Is it hardest for the former economy giants, that have been overrun by “out of garage” companies?

Yes, a large number of people are concerned with the problems of massive companies that just can’t keep up with the times.

They employ thousands of people and it is very hard for them to prioritize predicting the future, because their operations are very complex. They are the most profitable giants which have, for decades, worked in one way and have focused on what they know. Of course at the margins of these companies there are people that are aware of the needed changes, however, it is very hard for them to get to the seniors in the company, because they are focused on the wheels of profit turning. The problem is that much time is needed in order to get to those people, a lot of appointments need to be made, and a good budget needs to be approved, but even then they are already behind because of some guys from Silicon Valley.

It is hard to turn that massive of a boat and it is very slow. A fact which was okay some time ago, but at the time as big technological changes those companies must find new ways of keeping up with the times.

One of the ways is to form a small team, which could be separated from the rest of the company, that wouldn’t need to deal in protocols and that can forget the rest of the company and deal exclusively with technological advancements.

Of course, we, at Trendwatching, are very passionate when it comes to those companies and ways in which they can embed a methodology of innovation into their businesses in order achieve actual changes in a faster and simpler way.